PhD Candidate on digital technologies in European Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy

PhD Candidate on digital technologies in European Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy

Published Deadline Location
30 Apr 20 May Maastricht

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Job description

The Department of Political Science is looking for a motivated PhD candidate to work on the exciting research project ‘Digital technologies in European Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy: From democratising force to security threat?’

As PhD candidate, you will work closely with project leader Dr. Mariëlle Wijermars (co-promotor) and Dr. Gergana Noutcheva (promotor).

Job Description
Promoting connectivity and digitisation has been a prominent feature of efforts to support democratization processes. Yet, the socio-political impact of information and communication technologies (ICTs) is a complicated – and highly contested – matter. Moreover, its various impacts have evolved over time, along with the digital technologies and the applications of the internet itself. The internet’s interwovenness with social, economic and political life is constantly shifting, while the boundaries to online freedoms and rights are continually renegotiated. Contrary to earlier assumptions, the internet’s correlation with democracy and human rights has proven to be far from straightforward and the field is characterised by active norm contestation. In these processes, various actors play a role: from states and international organisations, such as the EU, to large technological companies, civil society actors and citizens.

As PhD candidate you will investigate the changing understandings of, and assumptions about, the role of ICTs in European Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy (ENP). Since the ENP’s launch, prevalent understandings of the internet’s role have shifted from viewing the internet as a tool for strengthening democracy – exemplified by how its operationalisation in popular internet freedom rankings continues to be predicated on democracy- and media freedom-derived indicators – to viewing the internet as a threat to democracy and human rights (e.g., concerns about disinformation, cybersecurity and rising digital authoritarianism).

The PhD candidate will be offered the opportunity to design their own research project within this scope, with the expectation that their project will shed new light on ICT-related policy and digital rights promotion in the Eastern Partnership and/or Western Balkans. For example, they may choose to focus on:
  • The role of (particular) EU and European institutions
  • The relevance of domestic political and socio-economic contexts
  • The role of civil society actors
  • The role of private parties, such as technology companies

Your research will be part of the Politics and Culture in Europe research programme at FASoS. PCE is an interdisciplinary research environment where you will engage with colleagues from across disciplines to develop collaborative research and contribute to the active research environment of the group, and FASoS at large (see:

You will:
  • Develop a doctoral dissertation under the supervision of the project leader (co-promotor) and promotor;
  • Supported by the supervisory team, design a research project on ICT-related policy and digital rights promotion in the Eastern Partnership and/or Western Balkans;
  • Conduct original research, including desk research, (qualitative) data collection and, if relevant, fieldwork;
  • Write academic publications, and, if relevant, co-author with other members of the project. Individual papers may form part of the dissertation;
  • Actively engage as a member of the faculty and the broader academic community. You will present your work to academic audiences and interact with a wider audience of citizens, journalists and stakeholders through outreach activities;
  • Engage in a limited amount of teaching activities, such as tutoring courses or supervising BA theses;
  • Take part in training by the Graduate School of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences;

  • You hold an MA/MSc degree in International Relations, European Studies, Comparative Political Science or a related discipline (or are expected to obtain such a degree before 1 September 2024);
  • You have received excellent grades and have a keen interest in academic research;
  • You have a solid foundation in qualitative research methods;
  • You possess demonstrable knowledge of and/or affinity with the regional focus of the project (Eastern Partnership and/or Western Balkans), as well as with the issues of digitalisation and democracy promotion;
  • You can manage your time and research activities well;
  • You are capable of autonomously conducting original research, as well as working in a team;
  • You are flexible, open-minded, growth-oriented, and eager to learn;
  • You are fluent in English (Cambridge English Proficiency, level C2, orally and written); fluency in one or more relevant language(s) is desirable;
  • You are willing to relocate to (the vicinity of) Maastricht and/or to be present at the FASoS campus three days per week.

What we offer
As PhD Candidate on digital technologies in European Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy at Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, you will be employed by the most international university in the Netherlands, located in the beautiful city of Maastricht. In addition, we offer you:
  • Good employment conditions. The position is graded in scale P according to UFO profile PhD, with corresponding salary based on experience ranging from €2770,00 and €3539,00 gross per month (based on a full-time employment of 38 hours per week). In addition to the monthly salary, an 8.0% holiday allowance and an 8.3% year-end bonus apply.
  • An employment contract for a period of 12 months with a scope of 1,0 FTE. Upon a positive evaluation, an extension of 3 years will follow.
  • At Maastricht University, the well-being of our employees is of utmost importance, we offer flexible working hours and the possibility to work partly from home if the nature of your position allows it. You will receive a monthly commuting and internet allowance for this. If you work full-time, you will be entitled to 29 vacation days and 4 additional public holidays per year, namely carnival Monday, carnival Tuesday, Good Friday, and Liberation Day. If you choose to accumulate compensation hours, an additional 12 days will be added. Furthermore, you can personalize your employment conditions through a collective labor agreement (CAO) choice model.
  • As Maastricht University, we offer various other excellent secondary employment conditions. These include a good pension scheme with the ABP and the opportunity for UM employees to participate in company fitness and make use of the extensive sports facilities that we also offer to our students.
  • Last but certainly not least, we provide the space and facilities for your personal and professional development. We facilitate this by offering a wide range of training programs and supporting various well-established initiatives such as 'acknowledge and appreciate'.

The terms of employment at Maastricht University are largely set out in the collective labor agreement of Dutch Universities. In addition, local provisions specific to UM apply. For more information, click here.

Maastricht University
Why work at Maastricht University?
At Maastricht University (UM), everything revolves around the future. The future of our students, as we work to equip them with a solid, broad-based foundation for the rest of their lives. And the future of society, as we seek solutions through our research to issues from all around the world. Our six faculties combined provide a comprehensive package of study programmes and research.

In our teaching, we use the Problem-Based Learning (PBL) method. Students work in small groups, looking for solutions to problems themselves. By discussing issues and working together to draw conclusions, formulate answers and present them to their peers, students develop essential skills for their future careers.

With over 22,300 students and more than 5,000 employees from all over the world, UM is home to a vibrant and inspiring international community.

Are you drawn to an international setting focused on education, science and scholarship? Are you keen to contribute however your skills and qualities allow? Our door is open to you! As a young European university, we value your talent and look forward to creating the future together.

Click here for more information about UM.

Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences FASoS is a close-knit community of approximately 250 staff members and 2100 students. During breaks and before meetings, you can often find us at our favourite local coffee spot Bandito Espresso.

Communication lines within our faculty are short and colleagues are always ready to assist each other. FASoS consists of a highly international student population and a significant part of our staff comes from abroad. Our faculty offers four bachelor programs, eight masters programs and two research master programs that are all characterized by their interdisciplinary approach.

Our research institute studies societies and cultures as they have developed in the modern and contemporary periods. We adopt a radically interdisciplinary approach, analysing the interconnections between Europeanization, globalization, scientific and technological advancement, political change, and cultural innovation.

In addition to teaching and research, our colleagues enjoy expressing themselves creatively. They create podcasts, write poetry as well as fiction.

Working at FASoS means working in a challenging yet informal environment. We believe in crafting your own career path and are always ready to help you in making the most of your job. For more information about FASoS, you can visit our website FASoS.

Graduate School
Our Graduate School of Arts and Social Sciences offers the opportunity to pursue a PhD in the interdisciplinary field of arts and social sciences. You receive a coherent program of introductory courses, intensive supervision and frequent discussion with the senior researchers inside and outside the Faculty. The Programme can be characterized by its international and interdisciplinary nature and the emphasis on cultural and societal issues of the modern world.

The School focuses on four themes:
  1. Politics and Culture in Europe.
  2. Maastricht University Science, Technology and Society Studies.
  3. Globalisation, Transnationalism and Development.
  4. Arts, Media and Culture.

Further information on the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and its Graduate School may be accessed on:

Are you interested in this exciting position but still have questions? Feel free to contact Dr. Mariëlle Wijermars at for more information.

Or are you already convinced and ready to become our new PhD Candidate on digital technologies in European Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy? Apply now, no later than 20 May, 2024 for this position.

You are invited to submit:
  1. A letter of motivation stating your qualifications and reasons for interest in the position;
  2. Your CV;
  3. Diploma and grade transcripts of previous education at MA/MSc level and undergraduate level;
  4. Two academic papers (course papers; theses; academic publications);
  5. The contact information of two references (including e-mail; phone number, mailing address, and relationship to the applicant).

The first interviews preferably take place on June 24, 2024.

The starting date is preferably September 1, 2024.
The vacancy is open for internal and external candidates. In case of equal qualifications, internal candidates will be prioritized.

Maastricht University is committed to promoting and nurturing a diverse and inclusive community. We believe that diversity in our staff and student population contributes to the quality of research and education at UM, and strive to enable this through inclusive policies and innovative projects led by teams of staff and students. We encourage you to apply for this position.


Maastricht University (UM)


  • PhD
  • Behaviour and society
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • 921


Maastricht University (UM)

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